Backlists To the Future by Tina Pohlman
Open Road Media looks forward to having this company blog to share some of our thoughts about the industry. We are excited to kick it off with our publisher Tina Pohlman’s thoughts on backlist marketing.
Backlists to the Future
by Tina Pohlman
In an industry often focused on the frontlist, it is important to recognize that one of the great benefits of the rise of digital publishing is the ability to give the backlist a vibrant new life. No longer do we have to wait for consumers to discover books sitting on a store shelf—we can use technology to connect readers directly to our authors.
This was not always the case. Throughout my career in publishing, my colleagues and I have always tried to find creative ways to market our backlist catalog by compiling a list of evergreen milestones or capitalizing on relevant news hooks. But we never had the right tools to do this efficiently and effectively.
Now, we finally have the technology to re-introduce iconic titles and authors’ complete collections to readers. At Open Road, we have used this technology to develop a proprietary online platform that—combined with a top-notch marketing team—enables us to market 365 days a year.
The concept of creating a calendar of milestones, matching them up with titles on a list, and then marketing the matches is a simple one. But it’s not nearly as easy to achieve as one would think. It requires innovative applications of new technology and a crew of creative marketing minds.
As Publishers Weekly recently reported, our marketing team creates a long lead calendar that provides us with opportunities to continually push out information about our authors. There are endless opportunities to do so, and countless websites dedicated to celebrating these milestones that are looking for content to post. For instance, you probably did not know that there is a national Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day—but there is and it is celebrated every January 11. Though you may have heard of Geek Pride Day, May 25, for which we produced a highly entertaining video featuring James Gleick, Andrew Kessler, and Barbara Hambly.
Digital cameras help us create high-quality and cost-efficient videos, and Open Road’s online marketing platform helps us distribute these videos to communities across the Internet. Our videos are not book trailers; they are original mini-docs about our authors, as well as mash-ups with themes that correspond to milestones, such as the aforementioned Geek Pride Day video, or the video we produced for Teacher Appreciation Week featuring novelists Michael Chabon, Pat Conroy, and Mary Glickman.
It is extremely rewarding to actually see the results of our milestone marketing. When we published our ebook edition of A Night To Remember, Walter Lord’s classic account of the sinking of the Titanic, we timed the publication to the centennial with a comprehensive marketing campaign ranging from social media to traditional publicity. Lord’s book hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and is still selling strongly.
So as the industry celebrates the big upcoming summer and fall books, let’s also celebrate bringing the backlist back to the future.